I wake with a jolt. I think I’ve just fallen down some stairs in a dream, and I bolt upright, momentarily disorientated. It is dark, and I’m in Christian’s bed alone. Something has woken me, some nagging thought. I glance over at the alarm clock on his bedside. It is 5:00 in the morning, but I feel rested. Why is that0 Oh – it’s the time difference – it would be 8:00 a.m. in Georgia. Holy crap… I need to take my pill. I clamber out of bed, grateful for whatever it is that has woken me. I can hear faint notes from the piano. Christian is playing. This I must see. I love watching him play. Naked, I grab my bathrobe from the chair and wander quietly down the corridor, slipping on my robe and listening to the magical sound of the melodic lament that’s coming from the great room.
Shrouded in darkness, Christian sits in a bubble of light as he plays, and his hair glints with burnished copper highlights. He looks naked, though I know he’s wearing his PJ
bottoms. He’s concentrating, playing beautifully, lost in the melancholy of the music. I hesitate, watching from the shadows, not wanting to interrupt him. I want to hold him.
He looks lost, sad even, and achingly lonely – or maybe it’s just the music that’s so full of poignant sorrow. He finishes the piece, pauses for a split second, then starts to play it again.
I move cautiously toward him, drawn as the moth to the flame… the idea makes me smile.
He glances up at me and frowns before his gaze returns to his hands Oh crap, is he pissed off that I am disturbing him?
“You should be asleep,” he scolds mildly.
I can tell he’s pre-occupied with something.
“So should you,” I retort not quite as mildly.
He glances up again, his lips twitching with a trace of a smile.
“Are you scolding me, Miss Steele?”
“Yes, Mr. Grey, I am.”
“Well, I can’t sleep.” He frowns once more as a trace of irritation or anger flashes across his face. With meSurely not.
I ignore his facial expression and very bravely sit down beside him on the piano stool, placing my head on his bare shoulder to watch his deft, agile fingers caress the keys. He pauses fractionally, and then continues to the end of the piece.
“What was that?” I ask softly.
“Chopin. Opus 28, number 4. In E minor, if you’re interested,” he murmurs.
“I’m always interested in what you do.”
He turns and softly presses his lips against my hair.
“I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“You didn’t. Play the other one.”
“The Bach piece that you played the first night I stayed.”
“Oh, the Marcello.”
He starts to play slowly and deliberately. I feel the movement of his hands in his shoulder as I lean against him and close my eyes. The sad, soulful notes swirl slowly and mournfully around us, echoing off the walls. It is a hauntingly beautiful piece, sadder even than the Chopin, and I lose myself to the beauty of the lament. To a certain extent, it reflects how I feel. The deep poignant longing I have to know this extraordinary man better, to try and understand his sadness. All too soon, the piece is at an end.
“Why do you only play such sad music?”
I sit upright and gaze up at him as he shrugs in answer to my question, his expression wary.”So you were just six when you started to play?” I prompt.
He nods, his wary look intensifying. After a moment he volunteers.
“I threw myself into learning the piano to please my new mother.”
“To fit into the perfect family?”
“Yes, so to speak,” he says evasively. “Why are you awakeDon’t you need to recover from yesterday’s exertions?”
“It’s 8:00 in the morning for me. And I need to take my pill.”
He raises his eyebrows in surprise.
“Well remembered,” he murmurs, and I can tell he’s impressed. His lips quirk up in a half smile.
“Only you would start a course of time-specific birth control pills in a different time zone. Perhaps you should wait half an hour and then another half hour tomorrow morning.
So s eventually you can take them at a reasonable time.”
“Good plan,” I breathe. “So what shall we do for half an hour?” I blink innocently at him.
“I can think of a few things,” he grins, gray eyes bright. I gaze back impassively as my insides clench and melt under his knowing look.
“On the other hand, we could talk,” I suggest quietly.
His brow creases.
“I prefer what I have in mind.” He scoops me onto his lap.
“You’d always rather have sex than talk,” I laugh, steadying myself by holding on to his upper arms.
“True. Especially with you.” He nuzzles my hair and starts a steady trail of kisses from below my ear to my throat. “Maybe on my piano,” he whispers.
Oh my. My whole body tightens at the thought. Piano. Wow.
“I want to get something straight,” I whisper as my pulse starts to accelerate, and my inner goddess closes her eyes, reveling in the feel of his lips on me.
He pauses momentarily before continuing his sensual assault.
“Always so eager for information, Miss Steele. What needs straightening out?” he breathes against my skin at the base of my neck, continuing his soft gentle kisses.
“Us,” I whisper as I close my eyes.
“Hmm. What about us?” He pauses his trail of kisses along my shoulder.
He lifts his head to gaze down at me, a hint of amusement in his eyes, and sighs. He strokes his fingertips down my cheek.
“Well, I think the contract is moot, don’t you?” His voice is low and husky, his eyes soft.”Moot?”
“Moot.” He smiles. I gape at him quizzically.
“But you were so keen.”